The Kentucky Wildcats (2-2) are coming off of a huge – and generational – win over Tennessee last time out. Next up for the ‘Cats is a Mizzou team that has had an extra week to prepare as their game against Vanderbilt scheduled for last Saturday was rearranged due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the Vandy camp. Here are the three keys to a Kentucky victory.
By Steve Wright
Keep up the defense
The win against the Vols was about as good as it gets for a defensive performance. Holding Tennessee to just seven points is impressive enough, but making them play three quarterbacks who combined to go 15-of-26 through the air with four turnovers takes it up a notch. That two of those picks – in the first quarter no less – were returned for scores is basically Steel Curtain level of good.
Young Mizzou QB Connor Bazelak has passed for almost 300 yards per game and he went 29-of-34 for 406 yards and four touchdowns against LSU before the unexpected bye week. This is a quarterback with talent and the Kentucky defense – especially the pass rush – will need to be on point here.
Find Nick Bolton
Nick Bolton is one of the best linebackers – and realistically one of the best players regardless of position – in the entire country. He has 36 tackles so far in 2020 and he will be all over the field as a big part of a Tigers’ defense that allows just 130.7 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry on the ground.
Getting to the second level with an offensive lineman to neutralize Bolton is the best way for Kentucky to pile on the rushing yards and get close to the 200-yard mark that should be enough to guarantee a win.
Pass on this defense
The Kentucky passing game isn’t going to be allowed to show up every week because of the way the ‘Cats play the game. This, though, is a week where it should. The Tigers allow 38 points per game and 307 yards each time out through the air. Kentucky is 14th in the SEC in passing with just 142 yards per game, but this is one where opening up the arm of Terry Wilson will be productive and take the pressure off of the running game.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 3:00 PM CT (4:00 PM ET). Watch on the SEC Network.